Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde has sought suggestions from political parties to give more teeth to the existing laws on rape. However sources point out that along with enhancing rape laws there is a proposal to better the police reforms. Vicky Nanjappa reports.
While the Delhi gangrape case would be the basis for the amendment to the laws, the changes would be effected taking into consideration the hardship faced by women right from the stage of filing a complaint.
Sources say while fast tracking of cases and the speed of filing a chargesheet in such cases does not require any amendment, as it is totally the prerogative of the court and the police. However, it has been found that women police personnel are still not treated on par with their male counterparts.
The ratio of rape complaints and the women police personnel are not equal and it is also found that women hesitate and refrain from filing a complaint before a male police constable or officer.
The Criminal Law Amendment Bill of 2012 has given sufficient scope to deal with cases of rape, sources point out. However, what the Home ministry is trying to work out is enhance the number of women police stations and also increase the women force in the police department so that a victim feels more comfortable in giving a complaint.
In addition, they would direct the police to act more as counselors rather than policemen while dealing with such cases. Studies have shown that at least 60 per cent of the cases go unreported as the woman faces humiliation.
The inclusion of counselling centres and more police women would ensure that cases are not hushed and a majority of the incidents are reported to the police. The new reforms would make it mandatory to have more than five all women police stations in each city apart from having two in every district.
Every police station would also be required to have at least one woman police constable of officer on duty at all times.
Now the human rights activists too have sought a say in the amendment to the new laws. Human Rights Watch South Asia Director Meenakshi Ganguly says that there is a need to widen the scope of sexual assault. Moreover, the existing laws are not used properly. Police reforms are also necessary since a victim has to feel comfortable while approaching a cop.
Legal experts say that there is not really much that can be added to the existing provisions under the Indian Penal Code. An option to introduce death penalty looks very remote as there is a good chance of the law being misused.
The Criminal Law Amendment Bill of 2012 gives a fair boost to the law and the more important thing is that it ought to be implemented properly. The Bill seeks to amend the Indian Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure and also the Indian Evidence Act.
Now, with the Home ministry mooting more changes to the laws, these suggestions would be implemented into the Bill and then passed. Under the existing amendment it is stated that under Section 375 any person is said to commit a sexual assault if:
(a) penetrates, for a sexual purpose, the vagina or anus or urethra or mouth of another person with
(i) any part of the body including the penis of such person; or
(ii) any object manipulated by such person, except where such penetration is carried out for proper hygienic or medical purposes;
(b) manipulates any part of the body of another person so as to cause penetration of the vagina or anus or urethra or mouth of such person by any part of the other person's body;
(c) engages in 'cunnilingus' or 'fellatio',
under the circumstances falling under any of the following six descriptions:
- Against the other person's will.